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Minister: EU is pushing no-deal Brexit

China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-06 09:27

Fox puts the odds of UK leaving EU without deal in future at 60-40

In this file photo taken on July 18, 2018 Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox leaves 10 Downing street in London. [Photo/VCG]

LONDON - UK trade minister Liam Fox said "intransigence" from the European Union was pushing Britain toward a no-deal Brexit, in an interview published on Saturday by the Sunday Times.

With less than eight months until Britain quits the EU, the government has yet to agree a divorce deal with Brussels and has stepped up planning for the possibility of leaving the bloc without any formal agreement.

Fox, a promiment Brexit supporter in Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet, put the odds of Britain leaving the EU without agreeing a deal over their future relationship at 60-40.

"I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal," Fox told the Sunday Times after a trade mission in Japan.

"We have set out the basis in which a deal can happen but if the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it's a bureaucrats' Brexit - not a people's Brexit - (and) then there is only going to be one outcome."

It was up to the EU whether it wanted to put "ideological purity" ahead of the real economy, Fox said.

If Britain fails to agree the terms of its divorce with the EU and leaves without even a transition agreement to smooth its exit, it would revert to trading under World Trade Organization rules in March 2019.

Most economists think this would cause serious harm to the world's No 5 economy as trade with the EU, Britain's largest market, would become subject to tariffs.

Supporters of Brexit say there may be some short-term pain for Britain's $2.9 trillion economy, but that long-term it will prosper when cut free from the EU, which some of them cast as a failing German-dominated experiment in European integration.

Fallout

On Friday, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was described as the "high priest of project fear" after he warned the prospect of a future trading deal between Britain and the European Union was uncomfortably high.

Carney's warning sent the value of the pound sterling falling, but it also provoked a war of words from a number of leading Conservative politicians.

The pound sterling dropped 0.3 percent against the dollar, to an 11-day low of $1.2975.

Carney said in an interview the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal was a relatively unlikely possibility, but it is a possibility, adding that a no-deal Brexit would also be highly undesirable.

Conservative politician Jacob Rees-Mogg, who heads the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservative MPs, responded to Carney's warning, saying: "Mark Carney has long been the high priest of Project Fear, whose reputation for inaccurate and politically motivated forecasting has damaged the reputation of the Bank of England."

The Brexit fallout came just hours before British Prime Minister Theresa May interrupted her walking holiday in the Italian lakes region to hold a Friday night meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at his holiday retreat in the South of France.

Media reports in London said May intended to try to win support from Macron for the soft-Brexit blueprint she published following her now famous cabinet meeting at her own country retreat at Chequers.

Reuters - Xinhua

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